Yanti Turang, an emergency room nurse at a New Orleans hospital, walked out into the parking lot in full protective gear early this month to meet a woman with flu-like symptoms who had just returned home after a layover in South Korea. The woman was immediately taken to an isolation room.
Around the same time, a man who had never left the country and had been in New Orleans throughout the just-concluded Mardi Gras season, showed up at the E.R. with a high fever and a dry cough. He was placed in a neighboring room, and cared for by hospital workers without any special gear.
To everyone’s relief, the woman who had traveled through Asia tested positive for the standard flu. The man, however, did not, Ms. Turang said. His symptoms improving but his diagnosis unclear, he was told to take Tylenol and get some rest. And he was sent back out into the city.